The Skinny on Salt
your doctor ever told you to watch your sodium intake? Or cut out the salt in
your diet? If so, then listen up and take note.
Sodium by definition is a ‘mineral’. It occurs
naturally in foods (such as celery, beets, and milk) and is added to foods
(such as canned foods, lunch meats, tv dinners) during processing in order to
preserve the food.
Salt (table salt) by definition is made up of
sodium and chloride. Salt is added to foods to preserve food, enhance color, or
give food a firmer texture.
Since salt and sodium are in a majority of the
foods we consume throughout the day, it is very easy to eat more than intended.
Let’s take a look at some of the foods the National Kidney Foundation lists as
high sodium foods.
High Sodium Sauces:
● BBQ sauce
● Steak sauce
● Soy sauce
● Teryaki sauce
● Oyster sauce
High Sodium Snacks:
● Potato chips
● Corn chips
● Tortilla chips
● Sunflower seeds
High Sodium Meats:
● Salt pork
● Hot dogs
● Cold cuts, deli meats
● Corned beef
Other High Sodium Foods:
● Pickles, pickle relish
● Canned Vegetables
● TV dinners
● Canned raviolis
● Mac & Cheese
● Frozen prepared foods
● Fast foods
Foods we may eat every day. (Yikes!)
do we even need salt/sodium?
The answer is Yes!
Sodium is a mineral that serves as an electrolyte
in the body. Your body needs electrolytes to control blood pressure and blood
volume. The balance of sodium and potassium (also an electrolyte) are necessary
for excess fluid to be drawn out of the bloodstream, filtered through the
kidneys, and removed as urine.
When excess sodium is present in the body it causes
an imbalance in blood volume. This is because sodium attracts water leading to
an increase in the volume of your blood, and consequently an increase in your
blood pressure. The increase in blood pressure is due to the heart working
harder to pump the high force of the blood flow. This can also cause increased
work for the kidneys as they filter more in efforts to get rid of excess fluid.
The side effects of excess sodium long term can
cause damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain.
how much sodium do you need?
According the American Heart Association, a person
should NOT consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, and ideally
consume about 1,500 mg a day. Aim for no more than 350mg of sodium per serving
or at each meal/snack.
How do you know if you are consuming a lot of
sodium in a food item?
● Sodium free- means only a trace amount of sodium
● Very Low Sodium- means 35mg sodium or less per
● Low Sodium- means 140mg or less per serving
● Reduced sodium- means the level of sodium is
reduced by 25%
● Light or Lite in Sodium- means the level of sodium
is reduced by at least 50%
of Thumb: If salt is listed in the first 5 ingredients, then the item is
probably too high in sodium to use.
& Spice Recipe Ideas!
is great for adding flavor to a low-sodium pasta sauce. You can also use it to
season vegetables, fish, chicken, or lean meats like in our Spinach Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap.
Dried or fresh
thyme is especially tasty when used to season fish filets but it also goes
great with any meat, poultry, bean, or egg dish. You can sprinkle it (along
with a little bit of olive oil) over vegetables or potatoes before roasting
them in the oven. It also pairs well with lemon, like in this month’s recipe Lemon Thyme Frozen Yogurt.
Cumin is a
common spice used in many different cuisines. Use it along with some chili
powder and garlic powder to season chicken, ground meat, or vegetables for
fajitas or tacos. It can also be added to chilis, curries, or stews. Try it in
this month’s Eggplant and Chickpea Stew which uses a
combination of cumin, cinnamon, and coriander.
will add a kick to any dish. It’s actually a seasoning blend that includes
dried chilis, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Add to it stews and chilis like our Veggie Chili, or use it in meat and veggies
for fajitas. In many instances, it is used in combination with cumin and/or
paprika like in our Chicken Joes recipe.
Dried or fresh
rosemary is a strong herb that can be sprinkled on fish, chicken, or meats
before grilling or roasting. It is also tasty on roasted potatoes. Our Fish Fillets with Fresh Rosemary is a quick
and easy recipe that uses this herb.
pepper flakes or ground red pepper such as cayenne will add heat to any
dish. You don’t need a lot to add a kick. Use this in rubs, sauces, stews, and
compliments both sweet and savory dishes. Simply use it to top your toast or
light yogurt, or stir it into your oatmeal with some toasted nuts. Use it in
cooked fruit dishes such as our Cinnamon Roasted Pears, to make a tasty and
healthy dessert. It can also be added to stews and chilis in combination with
is especially good in tomato-based dishes and is common in Italian cuisine. You
can use it in soups or sprinkle it over vegetables before cooking. Try
sprinkling it over pizza, pasta dishes, or garlic bread.
spice mixes or dried herb mixes, make sure that they are salt-free. Store these
in a cool dark place to maximize their shelf-life. Most of the time, you’ll want to use dried
herbs toward the beginning of cooking so there is time for the flavor to
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